One of the exciting things about electronic technology is how frequently a new model is released: better, faster, more memory, more features, more power, larger screens or just plain cooler.
Of course, that also means that the old models are used less and less often until they end up piled on the closet floor or shoved into the back of some drawer. Eventually, the old stuff begins to stack up so much that something has to be done to make room. When it's time to clean away the electronic dead pile, don't just take them to the dump -- you can actually get some cash for them!
Just about anything electronic has cash value. Used video game consoles are obviously worth something, but don't limit your treasure hunt: laptop computers, tablets, cell phones, digital cameras, calculators, DVD players, iPods, smart televisions and computer printers all have potential value.
Working: Like New or Very Good Condition
If you have an electronic device that is pretty much the way it came out of the box -- and that means that all the features work, the casing or screen isn't cracked or scratched and particularly if you still have the documentation and even the original packaging -- you might want to try to sell it directly to someone else. From social media to old-fashioned newspaper ads or even mini-posters on bulletin boards, you can try to reach out and find someone who would be willing to pay a fair price for what is, after all, still a pretty good machine, if not cutting-edge. Don't forget to offer any games or software that can be used on the device; they make the item even more valuable.
Don't want to go through the hassle? Go online and use a search engine to find a commercial buyer; search "video game trade in service" or whatever the item may be. Some of the larger companies are USell, TheOldSchoolGameVault, Gazelle and BuyMyTronics, but there will be others. The electronics in greatest demand are video game consoles (and games) and iPods, but they usually also buy other electronics as well. Most of these buyers will have general prices listed, but these offerings depend upon the condition of the item; their firm, final offer will depend upon what they receive when you ship the items to them. Before you commit, shop around and see who offers the best prices.
Poor or Trashed Condition
The good news about the commercial buyers is that they'll often buy electronics that are in poor condition or even not functioning at all. Since they're set up to revamp, repair or recycle electronics, they're able to find value in items that other consumers -- even buying used electronics -- won't buy. Even old models of electronics, such as iPods or video games that most people would consider to be "ancient" technology, can find a second life in other markets.
Before you take this route for old or non-functioning electronics, you might want to do some price comparisons with...
Electronics use a wide range and a surprisingly large amount of valuable materials. Electronic connections, circuit boards and other elements are frequently made with gold, silver, platinum, palladium and copper content. There can also be ruthenium, iridium, aluminum, zinc and even lead in electronics. These materials can be recovered fairly easily and, for recyclers who operate on a large scale, the amount of metals adds up quickly. There are many recyclers in the United States -- and also trans-shippers to recyclers in other countries -- who see e-waste, as it's called, as a form of precious ore, because that's exactly what it is.
A simple search through the Yellow Pages (in print or online) can give you a lead on e-cycling centers. There may be one within driving distance, or you may have to ship your treasures, but it isn't difficult to find a company that is willing to buy electronic scrap. Contact them to find out (in general) what prices they offer and how they'll take the materials. You may even find that you can get more in scrap prices for some of the really old, beaten-up items than as functioning devices.
Protect Your Privacy
Before you sell any used video game or gaming consoles, computers, cell phones or tablets -- either as a functioning device or as scrap -- make sure that you have completely wiped all personal information. Any device that could possibly contain any financial, tax, health or other personal information might fall into the hands of an identity thief, which can spell a world of trouble for you.
For computers, do not just reformat the hard drive; information can be retrieved from a reformatted drive with ease. Instead, download high-security data-wiping software; DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke) is available free and meets the United States Department of Defense standards for erasing disks. Remember to back up any information you want to keep before you run the software. If the hardware is not in operating condition, so you can't run wiping software, you should remove the hard drive and physically destroy it, preferably by having it baked in a commercial furnace. Before selling a iPod or video game console, reset it to factory settings to clear the memory of old, messages, accounts and photographs.
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